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Open Access Methodological challenges of cross-language qualitative research with South Asian communities living in the UK

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Objective: We investigate (1) the influence of ethnic, gender, and age concordance with interviewers and (2) how expression of qualitative data varies between interviews delivered in English and community languages (Punjabi/Urdu) with monolingual and bilingual participants across three generations of the Indian Sikh and Pakistani Muslim communities living in the UK.

Methods: We analyzed and interpreted semi-structured interview transcripts that were designed to collect data about lifestyles, disease management, community practices/beliefs, and social networks. First, qualitative content analysis was applied to transcripts. Second, a framework was applied as a guide to identify cross-language illustrations where responses varied in length, expression and depth.

Results: Participant responses differed by language and topic. First-generation migrants when discussing religion, culture, or family practice were far likelier to use group or community narratives and give a longer response, indicating familiarity with or importance of such issues. Ethnic and gender concordance generated greater rapport between researchers and participants centered on community values and practices. Further, open-ended questions that were less direct were better suited for first-generation migrants.

Conclusion: Community-based researchers need more time to complete interviews in second languages, need to acknowledge that narratives can be contextualized in both personal and community views, and reframe questions that may lead to greater expression. Furthermore, we detail a number of recommendations with regard to validating the translation of interviews from community languages to English as well as measures for testing language proficiency.

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Keywords: Ethnicity; South Asian; community; concordance; interviews; language; qualitative

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 April 2016

More about this publication?
  • Family Medicine and Community Health (FMCH) is an open-access journal focusing on subjects that are common and relevant to family medicine/general practice and community health. The journal publishes relevant content across disciplines such as epidemiology, public health, social and preventive medicine, research and evidence based medicine, community health service, patient education and health promotion and health ethics. The journal has a specific focus on the management of chronic illness particularly diabetes, ischaemic heart disease, chronic heart failure, hypertension, bronchial asthma, chronic obstructive airways disease and common mental illness. FMCH is published by Compuscript on behalf of the Chinese General Practice Press

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